It’s not only in the US where billionaires like Elon Musk are looking to take over media entities like Twitter — Indian billionaires are looking to snap up media platforms as well.
The Adani Group has indirectly acquired a 29% stake in media platform NDTV, and will launch an open offer for a 26% stake. This could result in the Adani Group controlling the 32-year-old media conglomerate.
“Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited (VCPL), wholly owned subsidiary of AMG Media Networks Limited (AMNL), has exercised the rights to acquire 99.5% of the equity shares of RRPR Holding Private Limited, a promoter group company of NDTV,” an Adani release said.
“It will trigger an open offer to acquire up to 26% stake in NDTV in terms of SEBI’s Takeover Regulations,” the release added.
“This acquisition is a significant milestone in the journey of AMNL’s goal to pave the path of new age media across platforms” said Sanjay Pugalia, CEO, AMG Media Networks Limited. “AMNL seeks to empower Indian citizens, consumers and those interested in India, with information and knowledge. With its leading position in news and its strong and diverse reach across genres and geographies, NDTV is the most suitable broadcast and digital platform to deliver on our vision. We look forward to strengthening NDTV’s leadership in news delivery,” he added.
This isn’t the first time that the the Adani Group has forayed into the media business — it had earlier acquired a minority stake in The Quint’s digital arm. The Quint runs a web portal, social media properties, and also a business channel in collaboration with Bloomberg.
But NDTV is one of India’s most prominent media names. The company was founded in 1988, and had been one of the pioneers of live election coverage in India. It runs an English news channel, a Hindi news channel, a business channel in NDTV Profit, and even an entertainment channel in NDTV Good Times. The group, however, has often been criticized for its left-leaning coverage, and its alleged closeness to the previous UPA government — senior NDTV journalists including Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai and Shekhar Gupta had been given Padma Awards under the Manmohan Singh regime, which has often led critics to question the neutrality of the channel.
The Adani Group, though, won’t be the first conglomerate to own a media business. Mukesh Ambani own a stake in TV-18, and indirectly controls channels including CNBC-TV 18, Moneycontrol, and News 18. Adani is now very much in the same league as Ambani — he recently passed Mukesh Ambani in net worth, and Adani Group companies are now collectively worth more than Reliance Group companies put together. It’s almost a rite of passage for billionaires to own media businesses — Jeff Bezos, for instance, owns the Washington Post, and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim owns a stake in the New York Times. It’s perhaps only natural that Adani — now the fifth richest man in the world — is making a media play of his own.